The evolution of language and why this is important for marketers

Most of us have been victim to a grammar fascist at some point. Whether it’s a silly typo, a split infinitive, innocent wordplay, or a figurative "literally", there’s always that one person to “well, actually, that's not correct English…” their way to a life of friendlessness.

Not only are these people rather annoying, in many cases they’re simply wrong: to boldly split an infinitive, for instance, is perfectly acceptable grammar.

But here's the thing: language is always shifting and evolving to suit the needs of the people using it. What's more, this rate of change is only increasing thanks to the internet. This evolution affects businesses across industries, as successful marketing relies on authentically speaking the customer's language.

Simply put, marketers need to stay on top of these changes if they want to stay relevant.


I’ll see your “Pickleball” and raise you a “Qubit”


Merriam-Webster understands this evolution only too well. In April they added 640 new words to their dictionary, while this September saw an additional 530 words getting the official stamp of approval.

Here are some interesting new words that made the cut:

  • Pickleball: a newly popular court sport played with short-handled paddles and a perforated plastic ball (and an entry with a championship-level etymology).

  • Qubit: the unit of information in a computational model based on the unstable qualities of quantum mechanics, a blend of quantum and bit (as in a unit of digital information).

  • Screen time: This first referred to the amount of time someone appeared in front of a camera in a movie (a use dating back to the golden age of Hollywood) and now referring to time spent in front of a screen.


From business-speak to everyday conversation


While you’ve probably heard these terms in marketing or business meetings, they’re now officially a part of the English lexicon:

  • Haircut: a new sense was added meaning “a reduction in the value of an asset.”

  • Gig economy: (coined in 2009) economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector.

  • Inclusive: A new sense has been added: “allowing and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability).”

  • Pain point: a persistent or recurring problem (as with a product or service) that frequently inconveniences or annoys customers.

  • They: expanded to include this sense: “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.” It's an expansion of a use that is sometimes called the “singular they” (and one that has a long history in English). When a reflexive pronoun corresponding to singular use of they is needed, themself is seeing increasing use.

  • Vulture capitalism: (first used in the “greed is good” 1980s) a form of venture capitalism in which aggressive methods are used to buy a distressed business with the intention of selling it at a profit.


Does your marketing speak your audience’s language?


Brands communicate to different audiences. For some brands, “cool” might be the right word to use to communicate with an audience that something is fun or popular. For others, that word might be “fire”. Does your marketing agency understand the difference?


At MPULL, we’ve partnered with clients across the globe to deliver fine-tuned content creation strategies that are designed for their specific markets. If you want a content strategy that cuts through the noise and connects with your target audience, contact us today.